Our experts solve more of your burning questions, including how self-isolation can impact your FAC.
Ask the experts: Legal
Q: At the end of March I applied to my local police force for a firearms certificate. It is my first one. I’ve installed my cabinet and I have my eye on a nice rifle and scope to start doing a bit of hunting locally. I’ve got a permission all lined up and ready to go. Unfortunately, a few weeks after my application I received word from the police firearms department that they wouldn’t be processing my application at this time due to the coronavirus. Is there anything I can do about this? I don’t want to lose the permission. Nor do I want my application to be prejudiced by the delay.
Stuart Farr says: Sadly, the timing of your application couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Many, if not all police forces, have reallocated resources to deal with matters arising from coronavirus. The problems with new grants of licences arises from the fact that a face-to-face meeting is required.
In addition, there is a need to obtain a medical report which, in the current circumstances, is going to be delayed because of the pressures placed on front line staff, GPs and nurses.
The Home Office has been canvassed to try and keep the process moving but the inevitable consequence is that even when the pandemic subsides there will then be a delay, as the backlog will be addressed as and when police resources are reallocated.
Ask the experts: Optics
Q: Why do people make things from titanium? It’s doesn’t weigh much, but are there any real savings?
Chris Parkin says: “Titanium” has a cool buzz word factor attached and becomes a marketing dream, but you are right, it has many drawbacks as well as benefits. In general use where shooting kit is concerned I can immediately think of two areas where it shows defined pros and cons.
Tier-One have used titanium fasteners on their scope mounts for several years now, these are very well made and delightfully smooth when being torqued into their 7075 T-6 Aluminium rings. This makes the application of torque accurate and more precise.
When adjustment or disassembly is required, there is no bi-metallic corrosion to snag the screws and you don’t get that chemical whiff of steel/aluminium corrosion as the joint ‘breaks’. They cost more and save virtually no weight but do bring corrosion free technical benefits.
Sound moderators would be my other area to consider. Titanium won’t corrode like steel, is lighter for a given strength and compared to aluminium, a lot stronger, can be made thinner and doesn’t suffer with fatigue cracks in the same way.
On the other hand, those thin walled moderators, beautifully light, well finished and strong, heat up very quickly and radiate faster to the air with more mirage issues.
This works well for a hunting rifle that might only have one or two shots sequentially, but not suited to longer firing strings where a thicker aluminium or stainless steel moderator – that’s likely wrapped up in a protective cover – will be just as effective because weight didn’t matter.
Ask the experts: Foxing
Q: During the summer do you find early morning is a good time to go out after foxes?
Mike Powell says: Personally, no. I know that, certainly during the winter months, getting out in the field as dawn breaks will often catch a fox on its way home. But during the summer months things are a little different.
For a start, nights are much shorter and many foxes are feeding this year’s crop of cubs, which means their hunting times are far more random. Certainly, you won’t find me getting up at 4.30am on the off chance of picking up a fox!
Several of the foxes I shoot in the summer are shot during the day, in fact I find around 12.30am seems to be the sort of time I see quite a few foxes on the move.
This is probably driven by the fact the cubs are getting hungry again after the night’s feed. So I really don’t think there is a great deal of point in getting out really early in the morning during the summer as you are quite likely to see them almost at any time during the day, particularly during late evening, as once again the demand for extra food will get them on the move.
- Mike Powell on foxing on the long summer days – read in full here
Ask the experts: Legal
Q: Shortly before the current coronavirus restrictions came into force I was able to secure a permission from a local landowner who is willing to allow me to hunt on his extensive agricultural property. Unfortunately, having tried to contact the local firearms department, I have been unable to obtain the necessary approval I need for the site which has only, so far as I am aware, been shot by game shooters with shotguns before. It’s not that I am meeting with no response. I am simply getting either a “too busy” or “not now” reaction which is a frustration for me because I am a regular rifle shooter who just wants to get on with the job.
Stuart Farr says: At present I gather this is a growing problem and it has largely been caused by the police authorities designating their limited resources more toward what they consider to be essential services. Reports around the UK are patchy.
Some authorities are better equipped than others to deal with routine enquiries of this nature. The shooting organisations are aware of the problem and a number of them are actively campaigning to the Home Office in an effort to maintain a viable service via the firearms departments.
As there is no practical legal mechanism which can be invoked to compel a response in these difficult and unique times, patience and polite persistence is the order of the day. So far as the landowner is concerned show willing and maybe start to shoot the land with a shotgun or air rifle if they are happy for you to do so.
Ask the experts: Optics
Q: I’m quite new to shooting and wanted to ask your advice as to whether to purchase a traditional pair of binoculars or a thermal spotter. I’m prepared (and happy) to spend the same money on either but I’ll only buy one. In terms of my value of spend, do I go traditional or new age?
Chris Parkin says: Although ‘thermal’ keeps advancing in electronic capability and reducing in cost and size, it will be quite some time before it can ever equal the daylight full colour perception we have of the outside world humans have adapted to for eons.
Although I have come to accept and greatly appreciate thermal imaging for initial detection of quarry, I can’t ever imagine being without a good set of binoculars because so much of hunting and game management relies on the differentiation of small details and fundamentally, reinforcing the huge amounts of data our own eyes and brains process automatically.
The thermal world is comparatively very new and, although beneficial, completely different to that intuitive understanding of spacial perception we have accumulated since birth.
In terms of primary detection of a heat source at hunting ranges, the market now offers spotters in the £1,000 region that will pick up heat sources in daylight or darkness far beyond usual shot distances and these work brilliantly as pocket assistants with binos permanently around your neck.
For pest control at night, I no longer carry my binoculars as primary equipment and rely on thermal binoculars but in daylight, I still rely on binoculars.
If your goal is culling for numbers in daylight, yes thermal will detect and allow immediate assessment of distance and direction to quarry far before they ever see you, scanning large areas used to take significant time with daylight optics before any kind of stalk could commence.
In tight woodland thermal makes initial detection faster too, but never gives full detail as to how much foliage is in the way of safe bullet flight or allowing observation of quarry behaviour characteristics.
I think what is important is to really question what you would want thermal for, purely to hunt and kill more, speeding up a job of work or do you still appreciate the traditional patient silence of singular footsteps along with frequent glassing and the immediate adrenalin satisfaction of spotting quarry.
The two tools complement each other very well, but won’t currently take each other’s place, so you’ll need to decide what your priority is first!
Ask the experts: Foxing
Q: As time passes I find that my night-time forays after foxes are becoming quite hard work, my question is do you find that shooting from static positions gets as many foxes as walking out after them?
Mike Powell says: I’ve been in the same position for quite a while now so I’m probably in a good position to answer that one! Do I get as many now that I mainly shoot from static positions, probably not, but then I don’t spend the same amount of time at it anyway.
Without a doubt, the whole business of shooting from a fixed point is considerably different from walking the ground. You need to know where foxes are travelling, and if you have been at it a while, I guess you know that already.
Equipment can be a little different as you really do need to be covert. Waiting in a vehicle or in a hide and flashing a lamp around isn’t the best way to get a fox to come to you so investment in say a thermal spotter would be money well spent.
Overall I find waiting for foxes is just as rewarding and efficient as walking miles, and it’s certainly easier on ageing legs!
Ask the experts: Foxing
Q: I have recently got my first centrefire rifle mainly for fox shooting – with the restrictions a young family bring the rifle has just about taken all the available cash – I certainly can’t afford thermal or expensive night vision. What do you suggest?
Mike Powell says: I was shooting foxes in considerable numbers long before we had even heard of thermal and night vision, we just used a lamp, and often a not very good one at that.
My advice to you would be to get hold of either a decent scope mounted torch or spotlight, which of these would be best for you will depend on how you are going about you shooting.
Will you be shooting on your own or will you have anyone with you? If the former, then a scope mounted torch like one of Nightmaster’s or Wicked lights will serve you well together with a hand torch for eye spotting.
However, if you are shooting with a mate and one of you is lamping and the other shooting, then a good hand lamp would be the best idea. There are several very good ones about, Cluson Engineering have some excellent lamps as do most of the leading suppliers.
Don’t be tempted down the cheapest route as there are some fairly poor items out there. Lamping, although looked upon as “old hat” always worked well and still does. It can also be pretty exciting!